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RNA. 2008 Oct;14(10):2115-24. doi: 10.1261/rna.1162708. Epub 2008 Aug 28.

Mir-302 reprograms human skin cancer cells into a pluripotent ES-cell-like state.

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Department of Cell and Neurobiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


Renewal of stem cells differs from cancer cell growth in self-controlled cell division. The mir-302 microRNA (miRNA) family (mir-302s) is expressed most abundantly in slow-growing human embryonic stem (ES) cells, and quickly decreases after cell differentiation and proliferation. Therefore, mir-302s was investigated as one of the key factors essential for maintenance of ES cell renewal and pluripotency in this study. The Pol-II-based intronic miRNA expression system was used to transgenically transfect the mir-302s into several human cancer cell lines. The mir-302-transfected cells, namely, miRNA-induced pluripotent stem (mirPS) cells, not only expressed many key ES cell markers, such as Oct3/4, SSEA-3, SSEA-4 ,Sox2, and Nanog, but also had a highly demethylated genome similar to a reprogrammed zygotic genome. Microarray analyses further revealed that genome-wide gene expression patterns between the mirPS and human ES H1 and H9 cells shared over 86% similarity. Using molecular guidance in vitro, these mirPS cells could differentiate into distinct tissue cell types, such as neuron-, chondrocyte-, fibroblast-, and spermatogonia-like primordial cells. Based on these findings, we conclude that mir-302s not only function to reprogram cancer cells into an ES-like pluripotent state but also to maintain this state under a feeder-free cultural condition, which may offer a great opportunity for therapeutic intervention.

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